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Tall Ship BOUNTY Sinks Off Coast of North Carolina; Two Missing

This morning, with Hurricane Sandy quickly approaching, Coast Guard rescuers airlifted fourteen of the sixteen people who had been aboard 180-foot, three-masted, tall ship BOUNTY from their life rafts to safely. Two people are still missing.

According to the Coast Guard report, the owner of BOUNTY lost communication with the BOUNTY crew on Sunday night. Later, the Coast Guard received EPIRB distress signal from BOUNTY. Using that position, about 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina, the Coast Guard located BOUNTY and, at around 6:30 a.m., found her to be taking on water without means of propulsion in 18-foot seas. At that time, BOUNTY was experiencing 40mph winds, approximately 160 miles west of the hurricane eye.

When the crew abandoned ship, they were prepared with survival suits, life jackets, and two canopied life rafts. Fourteen people were rescued by Coast Guard helicopter air lift from the two life rafts; a search has ensued for the two missing people. None of the fourteen survivors are reported to have life threatening injuries. BOUNTY sunk, and at last report has naught but her mast still visible.

Apparently, BOUNTY was sailing from Connecticut to Florida before the worst of the hurricane. Whether the cause of the flooding, propulsion trouble, and sinking were due to the pending storm or resulted for other reasons is not yet known. The names of the two missing people have not been released.

The original HMS BOUNTY became famous when her crew mutinied in 1789 near Tahiti. The larger replica BOUNTY which sunk today was built for and used in the 1962 movie, "Mutiny on the Bounty," as well as in later films.

UPDATE: One of the two missing people, said to be Claudene Christian, 42, has been found unresponsive. The person who is still missing is Robin Walbridge, 63, the captain of BOUNTY. Both had donned survival suits, as did the entire crew, before abandoning ship.

UPDATE - 11/5/12

Captain Walbridge has not been found. Ms. Christian was pronounced dead shortly after she was found. In a sad twist of fate, it turns out that she was the great-great-great-great-great granddaughter of Fletcher Christian, the first mate who led the mutiny aboard the original BOUNTY in 1789. She has signed on the BOUNTY replica to inspire and educate children as well as to honor her heritage.

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